Dr. Scott Todd, a former executive with Compassion International, claims the church can end extreme poverty worldwide if it only gets over its low expectations.
Those meager hopes are based on statistics Todd references in this video that show 77 percent of US Christians doubt his statement about ending poverty.
He also cites the responses of pastors. At a pastor’s conference he asked church leaders if they agreed with his statement and if not, why not. He said most quoted Matthew 26:11. In the passage, Judas scorned Mary for pouring out her perfume on Jesus when the money could have been used for the poor. In the verse Jesus rebuked Judas saying, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”
Todd believes the verse has been misinterpreted and anchors a fatalistic belief that poverty is an insolvable human condition. When later in Matthew 28:20 Jesus says “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” Todd asks, “So, which is it?” Is Jesus leaving or is he staying?
Todd says the church needs to have a debate about what he sees as an inconsistency because he doesn’t believe we’ve looked closely enough at what Jesus meant. Todd’s view is Jesus did not mean the poor would always be with us, but always with those in the room.
Todd also believes poverty can be eradicated based on advances in technology. He cites several statistics:
- In the US in 1900 the average life expectancy was 49. Today it is 79.
- In India in 1900 the average life expectancy was 24. Today it is 64.
- In China in 1900 the average life expectancy was 32. Today it is 73.
- In Ethiopia in 1900 the average life expectancy was 30. Today it is 56.
- From 2000 to 2008 there was a 78 percent reduction in the number of people who died from measles.
- From 2002 to 2008 the malaria rate was cut in half in 22 countries.
- Worldwide the HIV/AIDS rate was cut by 16 percent.
He has a plan called 52 to 26 and 26 to go. The title is based on Todd’s claim that in 1981, 52 percent of people lived in extreme poverty. Today, the worldwide poverty rate is 26 percent.
Todd asks, “Why can’t we keep up with that progress in our generation?”
To accomplish the goal of eradicating poverty by 2035 it will take $73 billion per year for 10 years. He says that amount should be easy to raise from Christians who earn $2.5 trillion every year.
Dr. Scott Todd is a partner in the newly launched Integrated Philanthropy Initiative.